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Pet Parenting FAQs: Our Vet Answers the Most Common Questions on Pet Parents’ Minds

Pet Parenting FAQs: Our Vet Answers the Most Common Questions on Pet Parents’ Minds

May 28, 2021
AUTHOR Dr. Alexander Crow, DVM

Reviewed by Dr. Alexander Crow, DVM

Dr. Alex Crow is an RCVS-licensed Veterinary Surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. He is passionate about educating pet parents so they can better care for their pets.

1.Where should my new puppy sleep the first night?

The first night bringing your new puppy home can be a challenge and your new furry friend may find it hard to settle into the new environment at first. Your puppy should start by sleeping in a crate so that they can’t wander around the house creating a mess and developing bad habits. It’s important that they have their own place to sleep, so make the crate as comfortable for them as possible with plenty of padding. Dog’s naturally won’t soil the place where they sleep so this should help teach them to wait until they can go outside to the toilet.

2.What should I do in the first week with a new puppy?

The first week is crucial for developing a routine and boundaries for your new puppy. Puppy-proof your house and make sure your whole family is on the same page with your puppy’s training routine. Don’t overwhelm your puppy with too many new people, allow them time to adjust, and get them used to sleeping in their crate. Gradually start house training, give them plenty of toys to keep them occupied, and play with them regularly to form a strong bond with your pup.

3.What is the first thing I should teach my puppy?

The earlier you start training the better. Young puppies are very impressionable so getting them into good habits as soon as possible is crucial before they develop bad behaviors. You can start training them in multiple aspects at the same time but perhaps the most essential is potty training, that way you won’t have to be constantly running around cleaning up after them!

4.How long can I leave my puppy alone?

Although it may be tempting to spend every waking hour with your new puppy, it is important to teach them to be okay with being left alone. Don’t leave your puppy alone for any longer than 2 hours as they will need regular toilet breaks, but leaving them alone for 20-30 minutes at a time will get them used to being happy in their own company and keeping themselves occupied.

5.What products do I need before I adopt a dog?

It’s important to be fully prepared for the arrival of a new dog into the family. Check out our comprehensive checklist here:  [link to your new checklist above]

6.How often should I walk my dog?

Dogs of different ages will need different amounts of exercise at different points in their life. Puppies shouldn’t be over-exercised while they are developing. A good rule is 5 minutes of exercise for each month of age, twice a day. Once an adult, dogs can go for much longer walks, often 1 hour at a time.

7.How long do dogs live?

There is a lot of variation in life expectancy between different breeds of dogs. Large breed dogs generally don’t live as long as smaller breeds. Large breeds such as Rottweilers and St Bernards live to 8 years old on average whereas small breeds such as Shih Tzus and Whippets live to 11 years old on average.

8.Why do dogs sleep so much?

Dogs will frequently spend 50% of their day asleep. As this video explains in more detail, this is because they don’t have a regular sleep cycle like you or I. They don’t get into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep as much as us humans do and therefore they require more sleep to compensate for this.

9.How much should I feed my puppy?

Puppies grow extremely fast and need complete and balanced puppy food to support this growth. How much you feed your puppy will depend on their breed and how much they will weigh at full maturity; a large breed of dog will require more food than a smaller breed. Check the packaging of the food that you use for guidelines of how much to feed them and if you are unsure then consult your veterinarian.

10.Can I feed my dog people food?

While it may be tempting to feed your dog people food you have to be very mindful of what dogs can and can’t eat. There are a lot of foods that we can eat that are toxic to dogs. Only ever give human food as a treat, don’t base your dog’s diet around people’s food as it is difficult to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients that they require. Check out our Nutrition section for advice on foods your dog can and can’t eat!

11.How often should I wash my dog?

This depends on how dirty your dog is getting while out and about. Of course, you’ll need to wash off your dog if they are coming back muddy from walks but otherwise, as a general rule you should only bathe your dog once per month. Washing them any more than once per week can dry out their skin and harm their fur.

12.How big will my puppy get? When do dogs stop growing?

How big your puppy will be at full maturity depends on many factors such as breed, gender, and individual genetics. Males usually grow to be larger than females and most people know that a Great Dane will grow to be larger than a Chihuahua, but it is important to be able to estimate how big your dog will be as an adult. There are some great calculators online such as this one which can work this out for you. Most small breed dogs will be fully grown by 12 months of age, medium breeds generally reach maturity at about 18 months old and giant breeds of dog can take up to 3 years to be fully grown!

13.How much is pet insurance?

The cost of insurance can vary greatly depending on the age, breed, and amount of coverage you choose. Monthly premiums can range from $10 to $100 but cheaper isn’t always better. The average monthly cost of pet insurance for dogs is about $50.

14.When do puppies stop teething?

Puppies explore the world through their mouth and they will relieve their tooth growing pains by chewing anything that they can get their teeth on. Most puppies will stop teething at around 6 months of age as their adult teeth come through. You can help reduce the effects of your puppy chewing by providing safe chew toys for them to gnaw on.

15.What shots do puppies need?

Puppies will need vaccines to protect them against diseases like distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus (DHP), and rabies. They need their first shot of DHP at 6-8 weeks of age, the second shot of DHP at 9-11 weeks of age, a third vaccination of DHP at 12-15 weeks, and a final shot of DHP at 16-20 weeks of age. They will then need to come back 12 months later for a DHP booster. The rabies vaccine should be given at 3-6 months old and again a booster 12 months later. There are other non-core optional vaccines that may be important for your dog depending on where they live. These include parainfluenza, leptospirosis, bordetella, canine influenza, and Lyme disease. Ask your vet if they would recommend these for your puppy.

16.How much does it cost to neuter a dog?

Neutering or castrating a male dog can cost anywhere from $35-250 depending on the breed and size of your dog and where you live. Costs at the cheaper end of this range are typically found at neuter clinics which aim to make neutering more accessible to owners.

17.How much does it cost to spay a dog?

Spaying a female dog can cost between $50-500 depending on the breed and size of your dog and where you live. Costs at the cheaper end of this range are typically found at neuter clinics which aim to make neutering more accessible to owners.

18.How much does it cost to microchip a dog?

Microchipping your dog is essential to being able to track them down should they ever go missing, so it certainly is not something you should be avoiding to save money on. The average cost for microchipping your dog is $45.

19.After their first year how often should I take my dog to the vet?

Generally, your dog will require yearly trips to the vet for their vaccines, depending on what vaccines they are receiving. Your vet will perform a full physical examination of your dog at these booster appointments and they can help you with any concerns that you may have. Some owners may wish to visit the vet for routine checks every 6 months to really keep on top of their dog’s health. Of course, if your dog is unwell then you should not hesitate to take them to the vet as soon as possible!

20.What kind of dog should I get?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, with different temperaments and different requirements for exercise and stimulation. You should always try and match the breed of dog to your lifestyle so that you can be sure to give them the fullest life possible. For more information check out our dog breed center!

author image

Dr. Alexander Crow, DVM

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Alexander Crow is an RCVS-licensed Veterinary Surgeon currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center, a small animal accredited veterinary practice in Nottingham, United Kingdom. He earned his Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the Royal Veterinary College London. His special interests include neurology and soft tissue surgery, and he hopes to start his surgical certificate in the next year. When not working, he enjoys traveling to Europe, painting, and staying fit.

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